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Neal Morse reveals prog rock opera project

(Image credit: Frank Hoensch/Redferns - Getty)

Neal Morse has revealed that he’s working on a new double album which will take the form of a progressive rock opera.

It’s titled Jesus Christ: The Exorcist and Morse has signed a deal with Frontiers Music srl to release the record in 2019, on a date still to be finalised.

Morse explains: “Sometimes providence comes with a whisper, sometimes it comes with an unexpected phone call. A friend of mine who works in the music business called me from New York one day in 2008 and said, ‘ A friend and I were listening to Jesus Christ Superstar last night and were saying somebody ought to do a new rock opera based on the Jesus story.

“I told my friend, 'I know the guy!' He went on to tell me I ought to write an epic prog piece based on the gospels. With a New York accent he said, ‘Ya gotta do it!’ I laughed and said, ‘Well, I'm busy right now, but I'll think about it.’

“Over the next couple of months, I began to feel that ‘yes’ inside and spent a few months writing the first draft. The strong sense that I was on to something continued to grow and the people that sang on the original version were really into it. 

Here we are, ready to record and release this collection of songs and themes that is very dear to my heart

Neal Morse

“However, my friend from New York, Michael Caplan, shopped it around and a lot of people loved it, but it never found a home… until now!”

Caplan recently called Morse saying that Frontiers were interested in teaming up for the project, with Morse confirming that he’s currently re-writing parts of the album.

Morse adds: "So, here we are… ready to record and release this collection of songs and themes that is very dear to my heart and I believe tells the greatest story ever told in a powerful, new way.”

Morse will be joined on the record by a number of guest musicians and vocalist, including his former Spock’s Beard bandmate Nick D'Virgilio. Current Spock’s Beard frontman Ted Leonard is also involved, as are Eric Gillette, Randy George, Bill Hubauer and Matt Smith.

To mark the announcement, Morse has released an audio snippet and a video showing the full cast. Find them both below.

Mose will debut the new material this coming Saturday (September 15) at MorseFest 2018 at Cross Plains, Tennessee.

Scott Munro

News editor for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. He’s been at the news desk since 2014 and when not writing, he can be found watching baseball and visiting whisky distilleries.